War on Waste: Anti-eco civil service


Wasteful spending by the civil service is not a new phenomenon. The TaxPayers’ Alliance has released numerous reports on this subject, most notably the Bumper Book of Government Waste.[1] Politicians have also drawn attention to the misuse of taxpayer’s money, with the Rt. Hon. Dame Margaret Hodge – the former chair of the public accounts committee – decrying the “mind-boggling waste of taxpayers’ money right across government”, suggesting that officials feel no sense of “personal responsibility for spending our money”.[2]

Despite these concerns, civil servants continue to waste taxpayers’ money, some of which is especially harmful to the environment. Such spending is in spite of parliament declaring a ‘climate emergency’. If the government wants to take climate change seriously then it needs to cut unnecessary spending which adversely impacts the environment.

This research shows the amount spent by departments in Whitehall on taxis and summer heating.

Click here to read the research paper

Key findings

  • Since 2014, the total amount spent by Whitehall departments on taxis and summer heating was £15,383,904.[3]
  • Between 2016-17 and 2018-19, £14,590,284 was spent by 11 government departments on taxis for members of staff.
  • The department with the largest taxi costs was the Ministry of Defence, spending £3,498,317.[4] The Ministry of Defence also has the highest average cost per journey, with an average journey costing £168.
  • £793,621 was spent by five departments between 2014 and 2018 heating buildings during the summer. This is unlike most Whitehall departments who are required to be part of the Whitehall District Heating System.[5]
  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spent the most on heating buildings during the summer between 2014 and 2018 at a cost of £375,668. Of this the department spent £195,197 in 2018 alone, which was the joint warmest UK summer on record.[6]

Click here to read the research paper



[1] Wild, A., Bumper Book of Government Waste 2014, The TaxPayers’ Alliance, 15 June 2014,


(accessed 4 December 2019).

[2] Hodge, M., Why can’t Britain get value for money from government?, CapX, 30 November 2016, capx.co/why-cant-britain-get-value-for-money-from-government/, (accessed 4 December 2019).

[3] Information regarding summer heating costs is from 2014 to 2018. Taxi cost data is from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

[4] Figures from the Ministry of Defence include all taxi and chauffeur driven car costs since the Phoenix II contract

commenced on 1st September 2016.

[5] The Whitehall District Heating System heats government office buildings in Whitehall. This system is turned off between

1 April and 1 October each year.

[6] Met Office, Top ten UK’s hottest years all since 2002, 31 July 2019, www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/pressoffice/news/weather-and-climate/2019/state-of-the-uk-climate-2018, (accessed 11 February 2020).

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